As day one of Dallas Stars training camp has concluded, here are some quick thoughts on the events.
Day one of Dallas Stars training camp in Cedar Park, Texas began and concluded with both groups taking line rushes and skating in a variety of drills in Friday morning’s sessions.
Training camp for the Dallas Stars, as it does for all 31 National Hockey League teams, marks the beginning of the 2017-18 season. Unlike some other teams that are destined for notoriety, the Stars have a promising campaign heating up and start training camp with an upbeat attitude.
The reason why? Well, this is perhaps the strongest Dallas Stars roster since their run of five consecutive division titles in the mid-2000s. Off-season acquisitions like Ben Bishop, Alexander Radulov, and Marc Methot have hopes running high in Dallas, especially when considering the return of former Stars coach Ken Hitchcock.
Hitchcock’s coaching style was on full display as echoes of the legendary head coach’s screams and disciplinary depends were heard all throughout the HEB Center at Cedar Park. The coach with the fourth-most victories in NHL history was doing what was suspected out of Hitchcock: getting into his players from the outset of his second tenure as a Star.
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All 59 (the Stars roster was shortened to 59 from 62 players after Martin Hanzal, Miro Heiskanen, and Chris Martenet went down with injuries) players bought into the new Hitchcock system, that featured an up-tempo practice and set of team drills. Some stood out for the right reasons and some failed to impress; let’s take a look at who falls into what category.
Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, John Klingberg, Ben Bishop, Marc Methot, Alexander Radulov.
Stars captain Jamie Benn looked to be in the best physical shape of his career, as the 28-year-old seems both fully healthy and mentally proficient. Seguin can say the same, as can Klingberg, with both players looking to keep their place atop the Stars’ point-production lists. Bishop, Radulov, and Methot did not look out of place despite having played zero games with the Dallas Stars.
Julius Honka, Nicholas Caamano, Roope Hintz, Dillon Heatherington, Jason Dickinson, Mattias Janmark, Samuel Laberge.
Mattias Janmark, to paraphrase NHL.com beat writer Sean Shapiro, looked as good as anyone after 90 minutes of training camp action. Janmark was pivoting well on both knees, including the osteochondritis dissecans-inflicted one that failed him last season.
Julius Honka impressed the crowd and head coach Ken Hitchcock, who described him as a surefire NHL defenseman.
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Dickinson looked healthy as the young center prepares to bounce back from a hip surgery that derailed his 2016-17 campaign. Hintz is continuing to make the steps to becoming an NHL player, as the second-round pick in 2015 readies himself for his first AHL season.
Caamano looks to be yet another late-round steal for the Stars as perhaps a pure scorer, and Heatherington shut down some more-skilled players as the defenseman improves his skating. Laberge, after signing an AHL contract, made a few smart plays that showed his impressive rink senses.
Jason Robertson, Denis Gurianov, Gemel Smith.
Luckily for the Stars, not many players made this list, and the players that did are simply players I’d like to see more out of. Gurianov and Robertson, as recent high Entry Draft picks, I hope will assert themselves more as training camp progresses. Smith irritated Ken Hitchcock to a level that we’ll surely see more of this season, as obscenities flew across HEB Center directed at Smith, the former Owen Sound Attack stalwart. Buying into a Hitchcock system, especially for a bubble player like Smith, is all too impressive.
PLAYERS TO LOOK OUT FOR AS TRAINING CAMP CONTINUES
Jason Spezza, Justin Dowling, R.J. Umberger, Greg Pateryn, Patrik Nemeth, Jamie Oleksiak, Landon Bow, Philippe Desrosiers.
Jason Spezza looked as comfortable as ever… but at center between Alexander Radulov and Jamie Benn. If Spezza is to play more wing than center, as rumored, look out for him on the wing later on. Justin Dowling has a miniscule shot at making the Dallas Stars club, but the veteran center is just genuinely fun as hell; he toe dragged and went bar-down on 6’7″ Bishop in one drill.
R.J. Umberger looked his age, with the 36-year-old failing to make plays with the puck and get pucks onto the net despite playing with two youngsters like Dickinson and Remi Elie. Hitchcock loves the gritty, mature Umberger, however, and is willing to give the former 50-point forward a fair shot.
As the defensive mystery of Greg Pateryn, Jamie Oleksiak, and Patrik Nemeth continues to unfold, keep an eye on the three defenders battling it out for the spot of the seventh defender on opening night. The same goes for Philippe Desrosiers and Landon Bow, who are competing for the job as Mike McKenna’s crease-mate in the American Hockey League this season.
Dallas Stars training camp continues tomorrow with two group sessions beginning at 9:30am in Cedar Park. Stay updated with Blackout Dallas on the FanSided network and on Twitter, at @BlackoutDallas.